What is the Story on Angels?

What is the Story on Angels? July 26, 2017

My latest over at Our Sunday Visitor:

Calling angels “relations” of devils is a bit of a misnomer — and for a curious reason. Angels are, like devils, created, noncorporeal spirits: intelligences that possess will, power and an ability (in the providence of God) to affect the created order and to communicate messages (as, for instance, Gabriel brought the news of the Incarnation to Mary). Unlike devils, angels have not rebelled against God and therefore enjoy the perfect bliss proper to their natures.

But here’s the thing: They are created neither to die nor to beget children. They are not sexual beings at all. This means, as St. Thomas pointed out, that each angel (and therefore each devil) is his own species.

We call them angels (angelos in Greek means “messenger”) because to us their function primarily has been to act as messengers of divine revelation. We are like children who know the postman because he brings us the mail, but we know little of the rest of his rich and varied existence. For, of course, revelation concerns itself only with what is necessary for our salvation and not with everything.

Revelation — and especially the revelation given through Jesus Christ — tells us some important truths about angels. The first thing — and this is at radical odds with the trendy angels shown to us by pop culture — is that angels are not a) humans who died (so don’t believe Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life”) or b) all about us. The center of angelic existence is God the Blessed Trinity. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “They belong to him because they were created through and for him: ‘for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him’” (No. 331).

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